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Doccie discovers lost Afrikaans community

The Boers at the End of the World traces the story of a 100-year-old Afrikaner community in Patagonia.

The Boers at the End of the World traces the story of a 100-year-old Afrikaner community in isolated Patagonia. Picture: Evelyn Proimos.

JOHANNESBURG - Plans are in place for the production of a fascinating documentary about a century-old community of Boers in a remote region of Argentina.

The Boers at the End of the World traces the story of a group of around 800 Boer families who left South Africa between 1903 and 1908 after the Second Anglo-Boer War and settled in the arid heart of Patagonia to start a new life.

Today, the outpost still exists and it is estimated that around 200 people still speak Afrikaans as their mother tongue.

Director Richard Finn Gregory said it's a fascinating story that needs to be told.

"It's a fascinating story for so many reasons. Firstly, it's a little-known tale of South Africa's past, and it would be great if this became an acknowledged part of the rich history of all of our South African peoples."

Gregory said the descendants of the Boer settlers have become largely assimilated with the Argentine population over time, and there was also a large repatriation movement back to South Africa in 1938.

"So it's generally acknowledged that the oldest generation of descendants living there now will be the last in that region to speak Afrikaans. A lot of the traditional culture will be lost along with them, which is why it's so important to tell the story now."

Gregory said he is also hoping the film can build enough awareness to give the community the cultural support they need so that it doesn't fade away.

The funds for the documentary's production are being raised through a crowdfunding campaign.

Gregory said this is why he decided to make a short documentary first on a modest budget of $6,000 (roughly R60,000).

From there, he plans to approach film-financing bodies, producers, and broadcasters, to find the money required to create the full feature-length version of the film.

"Crowdfunding seemed like a great way to get the short film financed because it makes it really easy for lots of people to contribute, people who I don't know personally but who have a strong interest in seeing this story told."

Gregory said so far, more than $4,000 has been raised but added there were only two weeks left to contribute.

"We really need members of the public to give us a last push of support to make sure we reach the finish line and get the film made."

He said the film will be made in three language versions - Afrikaans, Spanish and English - so that it can be seen as widely as possible.

"We've had support of all kinds from all over the world, so clearly the story really resonates with people, especially in South Africa. It's been so great to hear from people who have lost contact with their distant relatives in Argentina but would love for this story to be told. With surnames like Van der Merwe, Kruger, Visser, Botha, Myburgh, De Lange, Norval, Henning and Venter to be found in Argentina, this is a story to which many South Africans are connected."

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